Pre-Social Work instructor has nearly 15 years of experience as a social worker
Jill Grover, MSW, LISW, 38, started her new role as faculty in the Pre-Social Work program at Inver Hills Community College in August 2022. Jill oversees all aspects of the program’s Transfer Pathway Associate of Science (A.S.) degree. She works directly with students, teaching five pathway curriculum classes while managing the program’s required student internships and assisting with student recruitment and retention as well as community outreach.
“I have worked as a social worker in the field for almost 15 years,” Jill said. “During that time, I have gained a lot of experience working with social work interns and training new social workers and staff. It has always been the most energizing and rewarding part of my job to watch and help people grow in their roles and flourish into these amazing social workers.”
Jill added that teaching is a field she considered when she was young and still trying to figure out what she wanted to do in her life.
“It became a goal of mine to look into opportunities for teaching social work classes at the college level once I had worked for a while in the field,” she said. “The timing felt right to begin looking for those opportunities—and when I came across this position at Inver, it seemed like such a perfect fit for me.”
“It’s one thing to learn about how to be a social worker from a textbook or classroom setting, and it’s another thing to have contextual experiences to draw upon and back up the teaching from those textbooks.
“My nearly 15 years experience in the field allows me to be able to give examples, stories, and context to the things our students are learning about in the classroom and help them make sense of what they’re reading and learning about.”
Jill Grover, MSW, LISW
Pre-Social Work Faculty
Inver Hills Community College
Before joining the faculty at Inver Hills, Jill worked for Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS) as director of aging & disability services. Established in 1911, JFS delivers human services that help people age in place. JFS also supports caregivers and people coping with mental health concerns. Jill started working at JFS in 2015 as manager of the UCare Program. Three years later, she took on more responsibility in the role of case management contracts director. In late 2020, she began her most recent JFS duties in Aging & Disability Services first as interim and then permanent director.
Jill started her career in social work in 2008 as senior MS navigator for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Upper Midwest Chapter. She is quick to point out that social workers have chosen a profession where they are always growing and learning. Social workers must also be open to finding out more about their jobs and themselves.
“I will never stop making mistakes and learning from them—nor should I,” she said. “If you ever find yourself in a place where you’re thinking: ‘I’ve figured it all out, I know how to do everything, there’s nothing left someone can teach me,’ then you’re doing it wrong, and it’s time to consider another field of work! I’ve learned to be okay with the fact that I’m going to screw up and make a decision that turns out not to be the best—and I’ve accepted that. The important piece is that I can recognize and acknowledge that mistake, own up to it, talk about it with my client/colleague/whoever, and then reflect with myself on how I might approach that situation differently next time.”
Jill earned her Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) from Loyola University Chicago in 2008. She has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Sociology from Winona State University, and she’s a licensed independent social worker, or LISW.
She’s an active volunteer in her community and currently serves on the boards of the Willow River Elementary School Parent Group and Willow Ridge Additions Homeowner’s Association. She has volunteered with Upper Midwest Great Dane Rescue since 2011. Jill also served on the Minnesota Board of Social Work (BOSW) from 2015 to 2020.
“Besides having a lot to learn about the field of social work, every student has a natural talent or strength they bring to the class. It’s my job to help them identify their strengths as well as their areas for growth and help them instill a habit of lifelong self-reflection and learning.”
Jill Grover, MSW, LISW
Pre-Social Work Faculty
Inver Hills Community College
More about Jill…
Originally from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, a village suburb of Chicago with more than 42,000 residents, Jill graduated from Wheeling High School in Wheeling, Illinois, Class of 2002. She will have been married 10 years this December to her husband, Darren, who works as an IT consultant for Zonar Systems, and they’ll be celebrating by taking a trip to Belize. Jill and Darren have three children, Walter, 7, Wesley, 4, and Helen, 2. The family has a 2-year- old chocolate Lab named Starr and an orange domestic shorthair cat named Sam.
“I used to have two Great Danes,” Jill said. “We adopted them in 2011, and I began volunteering with the rescue we got them from. They have both since passed away, but I have continued volunteering for the rescue because I enjoy it so much. We hope to get a Dane again once our kids are a little older.”
In her free time, Jill loves being outside and in nature. She is competitive and enjoys game nights with friends and family and watching sports.
“I am a huge foodie although I’m a terrible cook myself!” she related. “I love going out to eat and trying new foods, especially when I’m traveling or visiting different places. I do enjoy baking, especially in the winter.”
Jill and her family reside in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Jill Grover family gallery
Jill Grover • Q & A
What advice would you give students thinking about social work as their career path?
Take your time to investigate your reasons behind wanting to go into the field—oftentimes people get into the helping professions because they themselves have experienced various challenges, traumas, and hardships in life and want to be able to help others who are going through the same things they are/did.
There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but it just means that you have to constantly reflect on yourself to make sure you’re addressing your own needs and wellness. You won’t be able to be an effective social worker and help other people through their life’s challenges if you yourself haven’t dealt with and addressed your own personal struggles.
What are the most challenging aspects of life as a social worker?
Similar to other helping professions; it can be incredibly difficult to watch people going through such emotional and traumatic experiences sometimes. And it can be even more difficult to watch people make decisions that are not benefiting their health and well-being. It can be hard to not take that home with you and “turn off” work at the end of your day.
Three words that describe you as a college educator:
FLEXIBLE. IMPROVISOR. EAGER.
What are some essential individual qualities a social worker must bring to the job?
A social worker needs to have strong boundaries and ethical standards when working with people on often sensitive issues. It’s also common for people in helping professions to want to try to “fix” everything—it’s important for us to remember that we cannot fix things for other people—it’s our job to help present them with the options, choices, and resources for people to make a decision for themselves on how to address their problem or challenge.
How will your experience serving as a licensed social worker help you in your role as a college instructor?
It’s one thing to learn about how to be a social worker from a textbook or classroom setting, and it’s another thing to have contextual experiences to draw upon and back up the teaching from those textbooks. My nearly 15 years experience in the field allows me to be able to give examples, stories, and context to the things our students are learning about in the classroom and help them make sense of what they’re reading and learning about.
Three words that describe you as a social worker:
GENUINE. ADVOCATOR. RESOURCEFUL.
Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?
I am someone who always loves trying new things and pushing myself into new opportunities and challenges. At this point, I see my new opportunity here at Inver to be where I want to be for a really long time. But I also know myself and I’m sure in five to 10 years after I’ve got some experience under my belt, I might want to find some new challenge.
I’m a big picture thinker, which has often pulled me into more leadership and macro-level roles, so who knows! Maybe I’ll want to explore the world of academic leadership at some point as a dean or other leadership role!
What person has influenced your life the most and why?
I’m fortunate that I’ve had a lot of really supportive and loving people in my life—there isn’t really any one specific person who stands out for me. My parents have always encouraged and supported me—neither of them went to college, so it was always something that we pushed me towards.
My sister and I both were first-generation college graduates, and we both went on to earn our bachelor’s and master’s degrees. My husband has also been one of my biggest supporters and champions and has always been in my corner pushing me when I’ve had low moments of self-doubt or feeling not “good enough.”
And of course now, with having children of my own, I want to be a role model for them and show them that their job can be more than just a way to make money and pay bills but also as a way to feel rewarded in life and make the world a better place.
One word that best describes your experience as a social worker:
Jill Grover • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: For what I participate in: walking/hiking; favorite sport to watch/cheer for: football and hockey
- Place you would most like to visit: Any country in Asia mainly so I can eat myself silly
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: I did a lot of theatre growing up so I’ve acted in several plays and been on some big stages—nothing crazy but the feeling of being on stage with lots of people watching you is nerve-wracking (in an oddly fun way) and exciting!
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Pay off any outstanding debts like my mortgage and car payments and any debt of my closest friends/family 2) Buy a nice SUV/larger vehicle to tow my family around (still cramming my family of five into a 10-year-old Subaru!) 3) I would set aside and invest some of the funds so that I could pick a new charity every year to give a large grant to for the rest of my life
- Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: I honestly don’t do much reading or watching movies these days with young kids but when I have read, I enjoy reading memoirs of real people; the last one I read was Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming
- Time period you would explore if you could time travel: The 1960s and 70s; always thought it would be interesting to see the era my parents grew up in
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Just to be happy and satisfied with where I am in my life—whatever that looks like is not important to me
- Your national bird if you were your own country: Hummingbird—I LOVE them and watching them on my feeders
- Dream occupation: I’m living it! But my “dream” occupation that never felt realistic was to become an actress
- Person you would most like to meet: Though I’ve met them before, I honestly would love to go back and see my grandparents again and be able to know them and have a relationship with them as an adult; most of them died when I was very young so I never got to really know them on an adult level; I have such fond memories of them when I was a kid, and I always wondered how our relationship would have developed more as I aged into an adult
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: I’ve always wished I was a better cook since I love food and eating but one of my not so redeeming qualities is that I tend to get easily frustrated when something I want so badly doesn’t go right…so anytime I’ve tried to cook and it doesn’t turn out well, I have thrown in the towel and not wanted to try again
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Oh, boy, there are a lot to choose from…but I think the majority of the problems our world faces today results mainly from people not being willing to understand a different perspective from theirs; if we all took more time to listen to others and less time trying to get our own opinions and viewpoints across, I think we’d all being doing a little better in our world today
Learn more about the Pre-Social Work program at Inver Hills by contacting:
Inver Hills Community College
More about the Pre-Social Work program…
Social work belongs to the field of human services that focuses on meeting human needs by applying methods, practices, and technologies from a vast, interdisciplinary knowledge base. Problem prevention and remediation as well as improving quality of life are the primary objectives of human services professionals.
Why Study Pre-Social Work at Inver Hills?
Help where you’re most needed.
Use your knowledge, values, understanding, competence, and empathy to directly improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities by helping meet their basic human needs.
You believe everyone matters.
People dealing with difficult circumstances struggle to find fulfillment in life. As a social worker, you will fight on their side, using your experience and expertise to make a lasting difference in their world.
Adapting to change is your strong suit.
Social work never stops evolving. New emphasis has moved to prevention and early intervention. If you feel primed to apply your talent and drive to help solve serious social challenges in innovative ways, social work might be your calling.
Be the voice for the voiceless.
People at risk need real assistance and understanding the most. Trouble is they are often the last to get the support they need. As a social worker, you will have the matchless capacity to step up on their behalf and persuade society to stop, pay attention, learn compassion, and race to the rescue.
Are you up for the biggest challenges of your life?
No two cases are exactly alike. That’s one of the first things you’ll learn as a social worker. Solving shifting problems with grit and creativity will become your second nature. Helping change someone’s life for the better can be uncommonly rewarding, but also emotionally demanding. Your intelligence and fortitude will be tested—then again, that’s a big reason you chose this profession.
Join a fast-growing, high-demand workforce.
CAREERwise includes four social work-related occupations on a list of 50 careers expected to grow at a faster rate than other careers from 2016 to 2026: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers (18.1 percent), Health Care Social Workers (14.0 percent), Social and Community Service Managers (12.3 percent), and Social and Human Service Assistants (12.0 percent).
Pre-Social Work Career Paths
Make a genuine difference in our world.
Due to the nature of the work, which involves direct contact with vulnerable individuals, job applicants are carefully screened for professional and personal qualifications. Employers seek applicants with relevant academic credentials, work experience, and a history of volunteerism.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for social workers approached $52,000 in May 2020. Overall employment of social workers in the U.S. is projected to grow 12 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.
More than 78,000 openings for social workers are projected each year on average over the course of the decade.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
Assess and treat people who struggle with addiction to substances such as alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Mental health and substance abuse social work is a very high-wage career that pays well above the statewide median wage of $23.81/hour.
Seven-county Twin Cities metro
In Minnesota, there are 3,110 workers employed in this small career. This career is currently in very high demand and seeing high growth (growth rate 14.9 percent in U.S.) compared to other careers.
There will be a need for about 2,707 new Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers to meet market demand between 2020–2030. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.
— Minnesota State CAREERwise Education • October 3, 2022